How to Install VMware Tools on Ubuntu 22.04 | 20.04

In the vast landscape of virtualization software, VMware stands out as a pioneer. Among the panoply of tools it offers to users, a crucial set is the VMware Tools or open-vm-tools, designed specifically for Linux distributions such as Ubuntu.

VMware Tools is a suite of utilities designed to enhance the performance of the guest operating system and improve the management of virtual machines. It encapsulates an array of services and modules which improve the productivity of virtual machines, paving the way for seamless interaction and exchange of information between host and guest systems.

The open-vm-tools, also known as the Open Virtual Machine Tools, is an open-source implementation of VMware Tools. It’s developed by VMware and is recommended for usage on supported Linux distributions like Ubuntu.

Here are the noteworthy differences between VMware Tools and open-vm-tools:

  • Licensing and Open Source: While both VMware Tools and open-vm-tools are provided by VMware, the open-vm-tools are open source and are actively maintained and updated by the community along with VMware.
  • Updates and Compatibility: open-vm-tools offers updates synchronized with the Linux distribution’s timeline. This leads to a more seamless and integrated experience. VMware Tools, on the other hand, are updated and released alongside the ESXi host, which might not always be in sync with your Ubuntu update cycle.
  • Installation and Maintenance: VMware Tools require manual installation and updating. In contrast, the open-vm-tools can be automatically installed and updated through the standard Ubuntu package manager (APT).
  • Feature Set: Both toolsets offer comparable functionalities. However, certain features such as the Shared Folders (HGFS) feature, primarily used for enabling file sharing between host and guest, are only available with the open-vm-tools.

The choice between VMware Tools and open-vm-tools typically depends on your use case. The open-vm-tools are generally recommended for Ubuntu and other similar Linux distributions, thanks to their synchronization with the distribution’s release cycle and the added advantage of automatic updates.

In this upcoming guide, we’ll deep dive into the process of installing VMware Tools on your Ubuntu system. We’ll specifically focus on Ubuntu 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish and Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa LTS, but you’ll find the same methods are applicable to short-term releases that have not reached their end of life status.

Step 1: Updating Your Ubuntu System

Before proceeding with the installation of any new software, it’s crucial to ensure that your existing Ubuntu packages are up-to-date. This not only ensures better compatibility but also reduces potential security vulnerabilities. We accomplish this with the help of apt, Ubuntu’s built-in package manager.

To update your package list, open your terminal and execute the following command:

sudo apt update

Upon the successful completion of the update operation, the terminal prints out the number of packages that can be upgraded. You can proceed to upgrade these outdated packages using the following command:

sudo apt upgrade

Step 2: Installing VMware Tools (Open-VM Tools)

Once your Ubuntu system is updated, the next step is the installation of VMware Tools or Open-VM Tools. The choice of the package to install depends on your specific Ubuntu environment: Ubuntu Desktop or Ubuntu Server.

Installation on Ubuntu Desktop

For users operating in a graphical desktop environment, we recommend installing open-vm-tools-desktop. This version of Open-VM Tools includes features specifically catered to GUI-based systems. You can install this package by executing the following command in your terminal:

sudo apt install open-vm-tools-desktop

Installation on Ubuntu Server (Headless Environment)

In a headless Ubuntu Server environment, where no GUI is present, a more minimal approach is beneficial to maintain system performance and security. You would not need the desktop-specific features provided by open-vm-tools-desktop. Instead, the open-vm-tools package is recommended. Install it with this command:

sudo apt install open-vm-tools

Optional: Installing the Developer Version

For users requiring additional features not found in the standard package, or those who wish to contribute to the open-vm-tools project, the open-vm-tools-dev package is available. This version includes extra tools beneficial for development purposes. If needed, you can install this with:

sudo apt install open-vm-tools-dev

System Reboot

After the successful installation of the appropriate package, a system reboot is necessary for the changes to take effect. You can trigger a system reboot by entering the following command:


Step 3: Verifying the Installation of Open-VM Tools

Upon rebooting, it is important to verify that Open-VM Tools has been installed correctly and is functioning as expected. You can use Ubuntu’s package manager to verify the installation. Execute the following command in your terminal:

apt-cache policy open-vm-tools*

The output provides information about the installed versions of all Open-VM Tools packages, along with details about the available versions in Ubuntu’s repositories. This ensures that the package is not only installed correctly, but also that you’re using the most up-to-date version.

Example output:

check openvmware tools on ubuntu linuxPin

Conclusion on Installing VMWare Tools on Ubuntu Linux

In conclusion, the VMware Tools suite and its open-source counterpart, Open-VM Tools, offer a wealth of functionality that enhances the experience of using a Linux distribution like Ubuntu in a virtualized environment. We’ve covered the installation process in different contexts, such as Ubuntu Desktop and Server, as well as an optional development package for those who need additional features or are interested in contributing to the project. The utilities offered by these tools improve the performance of virtual machines and facilitate seamless interaction between host and guest operating systems.

Additional Resources and Links

The next step if you are interested in additional resources of VMware Tools on Ubuntu involves exploring the official documentation and other credible resources. Below are some that you might find useful:

  • Official VMware Documentation: This is the official documentation for VMware Tools, which provides detailed information about its functionalities, installation procedures, troubleshooting tips, and more. It’s an invaluable resource for both beginners and advanced users.
  • Open-VM Tools GitHub Repository: This is the official repository for Open-VM Tools on GitHub. Here, you can find the latest updates to the open-source project, contribute to the project, or follow its progress.

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